Chris Rushworth’s performance at Derby has not been a patch on his brilliance versus Sussex last week but the Sunderland seamer is belatedly getting the reward for hard work.
When Durham’s golden era kicked off, Rushworth was playing in the North East Premier League having been released by the county. He was too determined to let that inauspicious start also be an ending, and won a second spell as a professional cricketer.
Durham’s trip to Derbyshire also started badly, only to be rescued by Rushworth and Graham Onions, who now have 100 County Championship wickets for 2013.
The bowling had not been up to its usual standards, as shown by an extra count which hit 50 for the first time this season.
But they responded with the new ball to restrict Derbyshire to 298, by no means out of sight.
Rushworth was brilliant against Sussex, yet had only a solitary wicket to show for it. Yesterday he claimed his third five-wicket haul this season.
His very clear target at the start of 2013 was 50 wickets. He is now five short and two more matches from a first Championship winners’ medal.
While Onions, on 55 scalps, is a county superstar every side needs a reliable seamer like Rushworth – lacking the pace to excite England selectors but all the more durable for it, and able to swing the ball when conditions suit.
The second new ball initially brought four wickets for six runs, and seven for 62. It put their efforts with the first into perspective.
Rushworth found Paul Borrington’s edge to end a 324-minute innings and redeem Scott Borthwick, who clasped a two-handed catch to his chest.
Borthwick dropped Shivnarine Chanderpaul on 22 while he and Borrington were grinding out a fourth-wicket partnership.
He took a second catch to an end Richard Johnson’s lively innings, the first of three wickets on 248.
Tom Poynton’s edge dropped just in front of gully, and Michael Richardson spilled the ball as he hit the floor diving at third slip. When he pushed forward, Rushworth had Poynton caught behind. Alex Hughes followed, chipping Onions straight to Usman Arshad at square leg.
Tony Palladino and David Wainwright were real nuisance value as they steadied the ship from 248-7 to 290, only to undo it by getting out four deliveries apart.
Both pushed forward, Palladino bowled by Onions, Wainwright caught by Paul Collingwood at slip.
That Derbyshire missed a third batting point was of little consequence to Durham. All that concerned them was matching title rivals Yorkshire’s three bowling points from Hove. But with the relegation battle as tight as the title race, the hosts will be none too pleased with Tim Groenewald.
Having stolen the strike with a single off Onions, he offered a leading edge to the next ball, sent down and collected by Rushworth, watched by his two biggest influences – head coach Geoff Cook and his dad Joe.
“Geoff’s been around my career since I was 11 years-old,” he said. “He’s always been there when I’ve played so he’s had a lot of say in my career.
“My dad always pushed me to do well as a young ‘un. Sometimes he got on my nerves a bit but he always had my interests at heart.”
Durham’s morning was hard going.
Wayne Madsen’s departure, lbw to an Onions delivery which kept low, had been a false dawn.
The Riversiders know how belligerent Chanderpaul can be, and Borrington followed his dogged lead.
A hook brought up Borrington’s first half-century since the opening match of the 2012 season.
Runs only came quickly off Jamie Harrison. His second over after lunch saw Chanderpaul boundaries either side of four wides from an attempted bouncer. Four of Chanderpaul’s five fours came in that post-lunch flurry, three off the left-armer.
Soon Chanderpaul’s edge gave Arshad his 11th Championship wicket. Three games in, his First-Class average is just under 12.
Durham scored quickly, and lost Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings. Stoneman’s innings was a throwback for him – a flashy 30 featuring six fours. He was caught behind off Palladino, who then beat Jennings for pace.
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